Contributed by: Brett Northey
Samoa were widely expected to be far too strong for the Candians in their third round match of the International Cup, but trailed for most of the game, at one stage looking completely out of contention.
The Northwind looked great early, withstanding the hard hitting Samoans throughout the first half. A feature of the play at Optus Oval (formerly Carlton's home ground) was the continual attempted side-stepping by the Samoans. This Rugby style move using the fend-off if the tackle was made would probably work in many cases. But the Canadians tackled admirably, pinning their bigger opponents and forcing turnovers. In the first quarter the Northwind kicked to the Robert Heatley Stand end. In light drizzle, Canada's big Mark van Gelder marked and goaled from 20m out. Adam Paterson went down with a high hit - he managed to get to his feet and get to the bench where his brow was patched up, but suffice to say he wasn't happy with his Samoan opponent. Dale Simnett also left the field, with a blood nose, and Canada was paying for its success.
In the second quarter a top passage of play saw Matt Kidd (from Alberta) mark and goal after Aaroon Falcioni marked at 50m and kicked to the goalsquare. Paul Loghanne (from Mississauga Demons in Ontario) snapped a great goal and soon after Rudolph David was yellow carded and sent off for 10 minutes without replacement. Loghanne snapped truly again from the opposite pocket and it was all happening at Optus Oval. Most matches in the series have been low scoring, especially since quarters are 15 minutes with no time-on. So when Jason Robinson marked, played-on and goaled, it looked all over for Samoa. The rain tumbled down and at half time Canada were up 5.4 (34) to 0.1 (1).
From the start of the third quarter everything changed. The Samoans threw away the unsuccessful barge-through or side-step tactics, instead playing more conventional footy, running hard and kicking long. Paul Maalona marked and goaled impressively from 45m then again from 40m. Suddenly he was in everything and booted two more to make it four in the quarter. The Canadians deserved a win after copping a very tough draw and fighting hard in every game, but unfortunately they were dead-men-walking. Inevitably the Samoans took the lead in the last quarter and extended it further. Maalona finished with 5 goals in a clear best-on-ground. In a tense final 3 minutes the Northwind had their chances to re-take the lead but fell short by four points. Their fans gave them a rousing cheer as they left the field - a feature of the game was the vocal support for the North Americans. Samoa keep their semi-finals hopes alive, but will need everything to go right from here.
Samoa 7.4 (46)
Canada 6.6 (42)
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